Swann makes a new push for immunizations as the health-care system struggles to keep up with demand.

The Health Minister has unveiled plans to improve the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines.

Officials are ramping up efforts to ensure as many people as possible get a first or booster dose as the health service continues to struggle with demand.

There were 430 Covid-occupied beds across Northern Ireland’s hospitals yesterday. Of this number, 39 people were in intensive care units.

Robin Swann said GPs and pharmacies would continue to play a central role in the vaccination programme, along with a network of health trust vaccination hubs.

Forthcoming vaccination initiatives include a dedicated walk-in clinic providing first doses to young people aged 12 to 17 on November 27 and 28.

A number of pharmacists are planning to run a weekend of additional walk-in clinics for everyone eligible for booster, first and second doses on December 4 and 5.

Trust vaccination hubs will offer first doses for people aged 12 and over, as well as booster doses for those people in the 40 to 49-year-old age group who had their second dose at least six months ago.

Health trusts are currently setting up a network of clinics involving 14 fixed locations and a number of mobile clinics across Northern Ireland.

These clinics will offer booster doses to people in the 40 to 49-year-old age group.

Most people in this bracket are not currently eligible for their booster dose because they had their second dose less than six months ago.

Health Minister Mr Swann said yesterday: “I am very pleased to see the roll-out of boosters accelerating.

“More than 260,000 of our citizens have now had boosters or third doses. This number will continue to climb significantly.

“People are still coming forward for first doses, and there are indications that demand for first doses is increasing again.

“Within the past week alone, community pharmacies administered in the region of 1,000 first doses to people aged 18 and over.

“The planned programme of additional walk-in clinics will help meet demand for first doses and boosters.

“Overall, the vaccination programme provided 97,000 jabs in the last week.

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to everyone involved in making this happen.

“It should be remembered that this vaccination programme is being delivered by a health and social care system experiencing the most sustained and severe pressures in its history.”

According to figures released by the Department of Health yesterday, 1,258,632 second doses of vaccine have been administered in Northern Ireland, and 84% of the eligible population has received one dose. More than 2,402 first-dose jabs were administered on Wednesday alone, and some 245,874 people have received a booster dose.

However, just a quarter of children aged 12 to 15 have had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The Executive voted in favour of the introduction of vaccine passports yesterday in an effort to get more people jabbed.

It is hoped this will help drive down the case rate.

Source:- belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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